Sudan – Bombing of Kordofan;Fighting in Jonglei – Replies in Parliament.


South Sudan

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have assessed the situation in South Sudan’s Jonglei State; who they believe to be responsible for the deaths and displacement of civilians; and what discussions they have had with the Government of South Sudan about the restoration of order. [HL15164]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are very concerned about the conflict in Jonglei state, which has displaced an estimated 168,000 people. The causes of conflict in Jonglei are complex, with resource competition between different tribal groups having been complicated by the increased availability of arms and activities of rebel militias in recent years. Past grievances and the desire for revenge further fuel the spiral of violence. Protection of civilians should be the first priority, and we support the efforts of the Government of South Sudan, supported by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, in that regard. It is important now to prevent reprisals and break the cycle of violence. Our Ambassador in Juba has met the South Sudanese Vice President and the Acting Defence Minister to discuss the Government’s plans for a reconciliation and peace process in Jonglei involving the church, local and central leadership and civil society. We continue to urge the Government of South Sudan to redouble efforts to defuse tension and find permanent means of resolving differences between communities.

Sudan

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will be assisting any efforts by the United States to deliver humanitarian assistance to South Kordofan and Blue Nile.[HL15026]

Baroness Northover: We are deeply concerned at the continued lack of humanitarian access in the conflict areas of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile State, and the impact this is having on the large numbers of displaced people in these areas. We particularly welcome the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs’ engagement on the issue, and are working with her team to support her efforts. We are also working closely with our international partners, including the US, on a lasting solution for the delivery of humanitarian aid, and will continue to exert pressure to achieve humanitarian access with direct contact with the Sudanese Government.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports originating from the Satellite Sentinel Project that the Sudanese Armed Forces have cut off the main evacuation routes for refugees leaving areas attacked in South Kordofan, have encircled the civilian population in the last

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rebel strongholds of the Nuba Mountains, and are building roads and lengthening the closest airstrip in order to facilitate an assault on the Nuba people in South Kordofan.[HL15113]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We follow developments in Southern Kordofan closely and are greatly concerned by the ongoing conflict as well as its impact on civilians. We are aware of the reports by the Satellite Sentinel Project. This conflict has already blocked many routes out of Southern Kordofan state, and we would be concerned by any actions to block them further. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North West Norfolk (Mr Bellingham), raised the need to end the conflict in Southern Kordofan and ensure full humanitarian access when he met the Sudanese Foreign Minister at the African Union summit in January.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of bombing attacks by the Republic of Sudan on territories in South Sudan; and what representations they have made to their international partners and the Republic of Sudan.[HL15116]

Lord Howell of Guildford: We are greatly concerned by reports that the Sudanese Armed Forces have carried out aerial bombardments in South Sudan and condemn any action that puts civilians at risk. Ministers and officials have pressed the importance of both sides refraining from military action or support across borders with senior government and military figures in both Sudan and South Sudan.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Northover on 23 January (WA 195), what proportion of debt cancellation in Sudan will accrue to the Government of South Sudan; what this will represent in real terms; and whether the condition of “genuine progress toward inclusive peace and justice” includes compliance with international norms on human rights and conflict resolution.[HL15117]

Baroness Northover: The Republic of Sudan agreed to take on all of the debt at secession on the proviso that significant progress towards debt relief is made within two years. On this basis South Sudan would not require debt relief. Sudan’s debt amounts to roughly $38 billion and is owed mainly to Gulf States, China, and Paris Club countries, plus a number of international organisations and commercial creditors.

As we have consistently made clear to the Sudanese Government, debt relief remains conditional on the need to see genuine progress toward inclusive peace and justice throughout the country, and resolving the outstanding issues from the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Ongoing conflicts and human rights concerns would play an important part.

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Asked by Baroness Cox

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to the statement by Susan Rice, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, on 17 January on United Nations Radio, that the Government of the Republic of Sudan has restricted aid organisations’ access to victims of military offensives in Southern Kordofan, and that there is a “grave” risk of famine.[HL15134]

Baroness Northover: We share the United States’ concerns about Southern Kordofan and continue to urge for an immediate cessation of hostilities and full humanitarian access to all those in need of assistance. UK officials in Khartoum are working with the broader humanitarian community to monitor the levels of malnutrition and other needs and regularly engage the Government of Sudan on this issue.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their latest estimate of the number of civilians killed or displaced in Kordofan.[HL15166]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): According to the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as of 31 December 2011 around 300,000 people have been internally displaced or severely affected by the conflict in the state of South Kordofan. Additionally 20,000 have fled to South Sudan and 35,000 to Khartoum. The lack of independent access means that there is no reliable estimate of the number of civilians killed in the state.

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